A patient being screened for skin cancer. (Dr. Ben Wiese)

Okanagan doctor warns against tanning as skin cancer rates rise

A Kelowna doctor said the number of people diagnosed with skin cancer has increased in recent years

As spring gets into full swing this year, Kelowna doctor is warning people to stay safe in the sun this summer.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and Dr. Ben Wiese said 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year.

“Statistics from 2017 show that an estimated 7,200 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and 1,250 Canadians died from melanoma skin cancer,” said Wiese.

He said there are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined.

READ MORE: Preventing skin cancer

The reason skin cancer is becoming more apparent is because more people are using tanning beds to attain that sunny glow and some studies show the depleting ozone layer could be a factor in increasing skin cancer diagnoses.

“Canadians born in the 1990s have a two to three times higher lifetime risk of getting skin cancer than those born in the 1960s. The incidence of cutaneous melanoma nearly doubled from 1973 to 1990,” Wiese said.

READ MORE: Kelowna cancer fundraiser walk

Wiese recommends avoiding the sun during the hottest hours of the day between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., try to stay in the shade and not get sunburned.

“Avoid tanning, and never use UV tanning beds. A tan means you have sustained skin cell damage. Cover up with UV- protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB), water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day of the year,” Wiese explained.

READ MORE: Stay safe in the sun this summer

Skin Cancer Awareness Month is a worldwide initiative to promote awareness about skin cancer, ways to prevent it and to give people a chance to share their stories.


@LarynGilmour
laryn.gilmour@blackpress.ca

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